“Your breath stinks!”
Those are embarrassing words people just don’t want to hear.
For thousands of years people have searched for the magic answer to bad breath. One of the answers is mouthwash.
Mouthwash has a long… and somewhat disturbing history...
The Romans thought the perfect answer to bad breath was Portuguese urine (yes… actual urine). Even tortoise blood was considered to be a magical cure at one point.
(I think if those were my only options… I would elect to keep my bad breath)
Listerine was created in the 1870’s, and was first marketed to sterilize surgical instruments and clean floors. Using it as a mouthwash didn’t take off until the 1920’s with a clever marketing campaign that caused sales to spike 8000% within a short period.
The idea that you could make all your oral care problems go away with a swish a day seemed amazing, and Listerine soon became a money making machine for Johnson & Johnson.
The problem is… the idea of killing all the bacteria in the mouth is a flawed concept as I will show you in a moment.
Even though studies are uncovering how these methods of cleaning the mouth are wrong, these multi billion dollar businesses aren’t just going to give up and disappear. Unless they are forced to remove the products, they will continue to promote them even if they harm your oral health.
At Legendary Men’s Care, we are working hard to take on these giants of oral care. Our desire is to create products that do their intended purpose, but are also safe for the body.
To give you some insight, here are a few of the dangers of modern mouthwash. I will also provide you with a few alternatives to use instead.
Mouthwash Destroys Your Microbiome
When they created mouthwash in the late 1800’s the concept was simple. If bacteria is responsible for bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease, then let's kill ALL the bacteria. It even became a popular tagline “Kills 99.9% of germs”.
Granted… this seemed like a good idea at the time. But science didn’t understand how the mouth worked (And we are still learning). They didn’t understand the importance of the oral microbiome. (Source)
Just like your gut, your mouth should have a balanced community of beneficial bacteria. This bacteria forms a film inside your mouth that acts as a protective barrier for infection, decay, and even helps prevent stains from things like wine and coffee. Along with protecting, it can help reverse tooth decay that is already taking place by aiding in tooth remineralization. (Source)
These “good” bacterial colonies also play a key role in digestion. One of the most notable ones is a bacterial strain responsible for converting nitrates into nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide plays a vital role as a vasodilator in the body. Low nitric oxide can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heart disease
- Decreased strength and endurance
- Slow muscle recovery
One of the best ways to raise your nitric oxide levels is to eat natural nitrate rich foods such as leafy greens…
And the best way to crash your nitric oxide levels is to kill these good bacteria with harsh chemicals in toothpaste and mouthwash. (Source)
Antiseptic chemicals kill all bacteria indiscriminately, including the nitrate producing ones.. This wipes out the protective lining of your mouth leaving it open to attack, and can dramatically lower your nitric oxide levels. (Source)
You also can get what is known as a “rebound effect” of harmful bacteria. Without the good bacteria to keep it at bay… This harmful bacteria takes over which can lead to gum infections, bad breath, canker sores, and tooth decay.
In a nutshell, using mouthwash is the equivalent to continually taking antibiotics without a good reason. This begins to wreak havoc on your natural body systems.
Mouthwash Chemicals Aren’t Good For Your Health
Many mouthwash brands use harmful chemicals, endocrine disruptors, and artificial colors… Things that should not be ingested or put in your mouth.
Your mouth is made up of oral mucosal membranes which rapidly absorb substances and chemicals. For example, when people are given nitroglycerin for heart issues, they don’t swallow it, but are given a tablet to place under their tongue. It is then absorbed through the skin under the tongue and taken right to the bloodstream.
Many people assume that if you spit something out, it doesn’t affect you, but that just isn’t true.
Now that we know what you put in your mouth ends up in your bloodstream, it makes you question what IS going in your mouth.
Here are a few of the ingredients of mouthwash to look out for:
- Alcohol (Ethanol)
- Chlorine Dioxide
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- Poloxamer 407
Along with killing beneficial bacteria, most of these have been linked to endocrine disruption (Alcohol, Chlorhexidine, Octenidine, Chlorine Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Parabens).
Formaldehyde is thought to be carcinogenic and a neurotoxin. And some studies show mouthwash containing alcohol may increase your risk of oral cancer.
Mouthwash May Contribute To Cavities
Using mouthwash containing alcohol on a regular basis can actually cause the very things it was meant to prevent.
It can increase your risk of cavities by interrupting the remineralization process of your teeth.
The first way it does this is by destroying the microbiome, which plays a role in remineralization.
The second way is it causes the mouth to dry out. Your saliva contains very important minerals to help remineralize your teeth, and balance your oral ph levels. (Source)
Another way mouthwash can harm your teeth is the use of acidic stabilization agents. These can erode and demineralize your teeth over time
Safe Alternative To Mouthwash?... Oil Pulling!
We have not found a mouthwash we can recommend yet. The ones we have found either wreck your oral microbiome or endocrine system.
Mouthwash is a product we have had a lot of requests for and is definitely something we want to release in the future. But it is something we want to spend some time developing to make sure it works before releasing it.
For now, here is a natural method you can do yourself to protect your mouth from harmful bacteria and kick bad breath. It is known as oil pulling.
Oil pulling involves swishing coconut oil between your teeth which naturally kills harmful bacteria and loosens plaque without destroying the beneficial bacteria.
Simply put a spoon of coconut oil in your mouth and chew it for about 15 seconds until it melts. Then swish it back and forth between your teeth. They recommend doing it between 10 and 20 minutes so you could do it in the shower, or a drive to work.
Once you're done, you will want to spit it in the trash (don’t spit it in the sink because it will clog over time). After you spit it out, brush your teeth as normal.
Most people start noticing their mouth feeling clean within the first week of doing this.
Safe DIY Mouthwash
If oil pulling isn’t your thing, and you would rather have a more traditional rinse, here is a great recipe option.
What you will need is:
- 1 Cup of Distilled Water
- 2 Teaspoons of Xylitol
- 2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
- A few drops of food grade cinnamon, ginger, or clove essential oil (Optional)
Simply mix it up in a bottle and swish with it once or twice a day like normal mouthwash.
(Keep in mind that Xylitol is deadly to pets because their lives can’t break it down, so keep it up if you have cats or dogs).
Mouthwash is just one issue, but endocrine disruptors in toothpaste are just as big of a problem. You can read more about them in some of our other blogs:
Well I hope you learned something valuable regarding mouthwash! Please stop by later for more blogs on topics to improve your masculine health!
As always, we got your back!
Joe, Kyle, and Clark
Your Legendary Men’s Care Team